We recently sat down with Chrissy Leontios, Principal Lawyer, CLEON Legal and Mediation Services to discuss running a business as a female practitioner, ahead of her presentation at the upcoming seminar Be Inspired: Women in Law. Her presentation will focus on how to excel and thrive as a female practitioner in the legal industry.
What are some of the key trends and developments that affect running your own business successfully that practitioners should keep in mind?
- Technology is quickly developing and is helping us work smarter and not harder. Be open to it: cloud legal software systems, organisational apps, internal chat systems for offices/ staff, automation of documents, automation of calendars/ appointments.
- Having different ways to take payment – i.e. lots of different payment options – website, social media shops, etc.
- Building a unique social media presence/ brand. There are a number of successful social media ‘lawyer’ stars – do not copy them. Be true to you. What you have to offer is unique.
- Be where your clients are at – think outside the box with advertising and marketing and use different platforms to benefit.
- Build your niche market within your practice area- the Brisbane market, for example, is saturated with Family Law Firms- what is your niche? How can you share that message with the world to attract your ideal client.
- Think about what sort of life/ business life you want to run/ live – use and learn technology to support that.
What’s something that practitioners should keep in mind related to maintaining healthy boundaries?
When you are in a position of power, influence, have a public profile, and your role is to serve people, your boundaries will constantly be undermined or stretched because a lot of people are competing for your interest, attention, help, or service. In order to look after myself, and not react to everyone else’s agendas, requests, and demands, I try to do the following things:
- I generally only have meetings by appointment only, so I choose how my day looks, rather than responding to everybody else’s agendas;
- I am learning to say “no” to more ‘opportunities’ and assess these so-called opportunities against my key values, mission, and whether it either a) advances a cause I am passionate about, or b) advances my business interests;
- Learning (it is a work in progress) to do things that I want to do and choose to do, rather than out of obligation, keeping the status quo happy, and trying not to worry about other people’s opinions of me if I do say no, or assert boundaries;
- Key message I live by – I am still a kind person if I assert boundaries. Boundaries can be set kindly, but we need to remember to be unapologetic, or try not to over explain our decision/s. This comes down to believing in yourself and valuing yourself.
Are there any basic tools that can be applied when starting your own business and staying true to your vision?
I would describe these as psychological tools:
- Stop worrying about what your competition is doing; in a race, remember, to win you need to keep looking forward. If you look sideways, or behind, you will lose, or at least it will slow you down.
- Get comfortable with imposter syndrome and not feeling good enough – it will poke its head up every so often. Therefore, being kind to yourself when this happens.
- Unfollowing competition or people that don’t make you feel good (or cause you to fall into the comparison trap on social media) – you will be so busy running your own business/ firm, you don’t have time for making yourself feel bad and depleting your energy!
- Avoid naysayers or energy vampires! There will always be someone who doesn’t support you, doesn’t want to raise you higher, will criticise you, or not believe in you. Believe in your vision and your purpose. There is no one like you – what you offer the world is special and unique and your clients choose you. This means consciously choosing who you spend your time with, who you share your business hopes and dreams with, and not being swayed by other people. Your vision is yours, and it is sacred; you have been gifted with your vision for a reason.
- Accepting that there will be failures in business. Accepting that you will make mistakes in business. Business is very hard. Be kinder to yourself when it happens, because it is inevitable.
Chrissy Leontios is the Principal Lawyer and Mediator of CLEON Legal and Mediation Services, a boutique and specialised trauma informed and feminist domestic violence and family law firm. CLEON Legal’s primary office is based in Townsville, North Queensland, and represents clients all across Australia, with a particular focus on Townsville, Brisbane, and Sydney, and is the only specialised domestic violence law firm in North Queensland, and one of a few in Australia. In 2018 Chrissy won the prestigious Partner of the Year Award in the Australian Law Awards and won a Gold Stevie Award (and also two Silver Stevie Awards and a Bronze Stevie Award) at International Women in Business Awards in New York City. Chrissy is also the owner of CLEON Empower. CLEON Empower sell empowerment cards – these are to lift women up, and provide strength and empowerment. CLEON Empower is soon to launch mini courses on domestic violence and trauma informed care for family lawyers. CLEON Empower also provides coaching to lawyers setting up their own practices, or lawyers in their own practices, who wish to create a thriving and niche legal practice, just as Chrissy has done in setting up a niche, and an award winning, domestic violence law firm. You can contact Chrissy at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect via LinkedIn